The CNN/ORC International poll of 457 registered voters who watched the nationally televised presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., found 46 percent said the Democratic incumbent won the debate, while 39 percent said the Republican nominee came out ahead.
The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans and 33 percent as Democrats.
The turnaround from the candidates' first debate Oct. 3 was significant. Romney was viewed the winner by a 67-25 margin in that first confrontation.
The survey of debate No. 2 watchers also found 73 percent said Obama's performance was better than they expected, while 16 percent said it was about what they expected and 10 percent said it was worse than expected. Thirty-seven percent said Romney performed above expectations, 33 percent said it was the same as expected and 28 percent said it was worse.